Advanced Manufacturing Environment for USN Refueller
Boeing will build the MQ-25 STINGRAY UAS for the US Navy at a new 300,000sqft facility at MidAmerica St Louis Airport, IL, the company announced on 17 September.
Building the Navy’s newest carrier-based aircraft at a new high-tech facility will bring the benefits of digital aircraft design and production to the Navy, and up to 300 advanced manufacturing jobs to the greater St Louis region. The new facility, scheduled for completion in 2024, will initially employ approximately 150 mechanics, engineers and support staff: employment could reach up to 300 with additional orders.
Boeing digitally engineered the entire MQ-25 aircraft and its systems, resulting in high-fidelity models that are used to drive quality, efficiency and flexibility throughout the production and sustainment process. The new MQ-25 facility will include state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and tools, including robotic automation and advanced assembly techniques, to improve product quality and employee ergonomics.
“The team and state-of-the-art technology we’re bringing to the Navy’s MQ-25 program is unprecedented,” explained Kristin Robertson, VP/GM of Autonomous Systems. “We’ve received great support from MidAmerica Airport and countless dedicated employees, and we’re excited to build the Navy’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft right here in the Metro East.”
For two years, Boeing and the Navy have been flight testing the Boeing-owned MQ-25 test asset from MidAmerica Airport where, in recent history-making missions, T1 has refueled an F/A-18 Super HORNET, an E-2D HAWKEYE and an F-35C LIGHTNING II.
The USN intends to procure more than 70 MQ-25 aircraft, to help extend the range of the carrier air wing, and the majority of those will be built in the new facility. Boeing is currently producing the first seven aircraft, plus two ground test articles, at its St Louis facilities; they will be transported to MidAmerica for flight test. The MQ-25 programme office, including its core engineering team, will remain based in St. Louis.
The new MQ-25 facility will be in addition to existing manufacturing operations at Boeing St Clair, which produces components for the CH-47 CHINOOK, F/A-18 Super HORNET, F-15 and other defence products.